The Venus & the Cat story
Venus & the Cat launched in the Autumn of 2020 with one ambition – to create beautiful, classically refined fine bone china homeware, and cover it in graffiti and street art.
And not just any homeware. Bespoke creations that we design and have hand made by storied master-craftsmen in the heart of the Potteries.
And not just any art, but our own exclusive commissions from our favourite graff and street artists.
It’s ambitious, but you won't find anything like this anywhere else. Street art transforms spaces from the wall, so why not on the beautiful objects you have about your home?
But how did the Venus & the Cat story begin? We trace it back to 2003 and a hot summer day on a bustling Duke Street, Brighton. Aimlessly wandering the lanes, we tripped over a few lads spray painting portraits for sale on the kerb outside Offspring. It was captivating watching them work, some kind of frantic calm, working away at pace but in peace, as the people traffic bustled by.
We stood and stared. We hadn’t seen anything like this before. Graffiti was something that happened on walls whilst we slept, usually at our school with a white-wash shelf life, or so we thought. As we stood and watched this work in motion, we saw skill and craft, artistry at work. And in plain sight. And commanding a price.
Fast forward… about five hours. We were fixing up for the night in the Prince Albert (a street art inspiration in our hearts) when we bumped into the same lads we’d watched earlier that day. We struck up a chat. They hadn’t sold much that day, but their passion was infectious.
They’d been joined by another hustling, bustling rag-tag member of their crew who was fresh off a train from France. It was a special trip he’d made overnight to paint a mural on a school wall he’d been planning for months. The dedication left an impression on us, even if we didn’t fully understand it.
They told us how they were starting to do work for people. Mainly skateboards, some walls, mostly bars… anything that people asked them to do. They believed in the power of street art to bring any functional daily object or environment to life and had big plans to create a real gig of it. It wasn’t much more than a few months and Rarekind was open for business.
Our next unique encounter at the Albert (showing off its fresh new Banksy ‘Kissing Coppers’, nestling next to George Best scratching his arse) started with a typically unexpected meeting of the minds – us, some indie types, got into a decent chat with the local goth kids waiting for band night to kick off in earnest.
We wondered who the distinguished gent sat alone at the bar attracting all the stares happened to be. Being of the gregarious ilk we asked if he fancied a beer. He did. And a few more besides. And so began a night spent with David Soul (or Hutch, if you prefer). He was playing Jerry Springer in a stage show in London, but the Albert was his south coast escape. As odd chance would have it, Hutch was a street art connoisseur. We talked about the beautifully spray canned walls of the Albert (if you haven’t seen them, go check it out) and he expressed his sadness that too often street art and graff is whitewashed or vandalised.
He told us about a project he was working on to buy up private wall space across Hollywood Hills to give kids a space to express themselves legally and free of fear that their work will disappear overnight. For the first time it hit us that street art wasn’t a niche love. It was widely loved.
You only had to visit Art Republic on Brighton’s Bond Street to see how the Picasso and Rembrandt prints were being replaced by street art influence work, crossing the threshold into our homes. We loved it. We started collecting it.
Slowly, but surely. RYCA came first. Harry Fett (#35), quickly followed by Ghostbusters RED (#6). And in our humble opinion, street art began to inform much of the pop art we started to see crop up in ‘regular’ high street galleries. There’s a rich history, of course, and our education was only just beginning, but popularity was growing, and it was obvious. We started an obsession with Dave White and his ‘Flying Owl’ soon soared across our living room wall.
By then, though, we’d left Brighton and migrated north to Dulwich, South London. What a treat awaited us. Being on Brixton’s doorstep and having Herne Hill, Crystal Palace, Peckham and Dulwich Village to peruse, we found street art everywhere.
We’d read about Stik. Seeing one in front of you suddenly felt like meeting a celebrity. You stand a little in awe, then realise it’s on your walk to the local. It becomes a friend. A little check-in each time you head out. This stuff used to be illegal. Now it’s commissioned. Valuable. You'll find Stik at Sotheby's. Cut it out and it goes to auction. Who’d have thought we’d see it all across the Dulwich estate?
Today Venus & the Cat hails calls Walthamstow home. In E17 you're surrounded by the evidence of Wood Street Walls’ incredible work to define mural space for beautiful art to transform living spaces and grow a self-supportive economy around the form. A short stroll around the borough will take you past an outdoor gallery of STATIC, Hatch, XENX, Katrina Russell-Adams, Toasters, Frankie Strand, Invader, SHOK-1, Carl Cashman, Remi Rough, Georgia Hill, Mark McClure, Connor Harrington, Fanakapan, ATMA and many many more, all commissioned and facilitated by the Wood Street Walls team.
We also found a thriving local business scene appreciative of street art, with so many bars, restaurants, pubs and shops in east London embracing the form. If you’re in our area, make sure to visit Yard Sale, Arte e pasta (who carry some of our pieces) or the Bell, each act as galleries of street art.
And so it struck us. Street art literally transforms living spaces. It creates wellness, happiness, joy, if not debate, curiosity and a talking point. And then when we bring it into our home it becomes deeply personal, a choice we make about who we are and what we surround ourselves with. But why should it stop with our walls?
Why should street art live only on the two-dimensional canvasses that hang around our perimeter, alienated from the centre of the room? We happily pay for and put art on our walls. Why don't we put art on the things and items around us, that surround us, that we touch and hold every day? We’re not talking about KAWS Companions or MEDICOM toys, love them as we do, but the objects that exist in our homes? And who really likes chintz anyway?
As Walthamstow's arts and crafts pioneer William Morris once said, “have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful”. We decided to set about creating both useful and beautiful new ways for street art to bring our homes to life.
We loved the idea of taking beautiful fine bone china homeware - the stuff that typically sits on shelves and harks back to a bygone era, and juxtaposing it with modern day street art. Old versus new. A styles clash. An absurd juxtaposition.
So we explored the world of ceramics and took on a whole new education. We learned that only the pure quality of fine bone china could truly bring the richness of street art colour to life, that only the finest materials would do the work justice. And we learned about the incredible process behind designing and creating fine bone china pieces. So we set about creating the most beautiful, entirely bespoke, classically hand-crafted, premium homeware that we could.
From there we sought out some of our favourite street artists to help us on our journey. Supporting British-based is important for us, contributing in some way to local creativity, arts, the artistic economy, the ceramic heritage of the Potteries and the sustainability of our rich heritage in art and street art.
We worked directly with our friends at Wood Street Walls and were lucky enough to meet Hatch, Katrina Russell-Adams and Carl Cashman. Each has a mural walking distance from where we live and in some way were already present in our lives. Now we got to collaborate and co-create with them, learning all the while as we did how to bring this concept to life in stunning limited edition pieces.
In a few short months people started to notice. Enquiries came in from art galleries and we saw our work pop up in features in Design Milk, the Telegraph, Décor Punk, People of Print, Beast London and more besides. Since then we've seen our unique Limited Edition creations purchased and packaged off to find new homes all around the world, heading to collectors as far east as Sydney, and across the pond to New York.
So watch this space. Each year we will feature new collaborations (like the Summer '21 drop with The Fandangoe Kid) and offer new and unique ways for you to bring street art in to your home.